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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > South East > Public sector > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings




Index of tables

  1. Education
  2. Leading individuals

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Education clients in South East using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


Blake Morgan LLP fields a 'very accessible and personable' education team that is noted for its willingness to accommodate clients, 'even when time is scarce and the need is urgent'. The firm's clients include a number of Oxford colleges, for which it handles a range of matters, including recently negotiating and redrafting an agreement with an outside education organiser for use of an Oxford college, and redrafting agreements for student accommodation. The practice also acts for a number of other universities, including Cambridge and Reading, for which it handles governance, administration, and charities regulation, among other matters. Sheilah Mackie in Southampton acts for a number of higher education clients and educational bodies. Also recommended are employment specialist Mike Wilson and commercial property expert John Deech, both based in Oxford.

Penningtons Manches Cooper provides 'an excellent level of service and responsiveness, and good value for money'. The practice handles the full range of work across the higher education sector, from advising education institutions on QAA and ISI compliance and withdrawal of accreditation, to advising early-stage university spin-out companies on technology transfer and licensing agreements with parent institutions. Other areas of expertise include employment, data protection (including GDPR), and the growing sector of alternative providers of higher education. Recent highlights include advising EdTech company Classlist on a £500,000 fundraising, and acting for St Peter's College, Oxford on its £4.1m acquisition of three buildings adjacent to the college. Practice head Daff Richardson is 'incisive, professional and very responsive'; her track record in the higher education sector reassures clients, who value her 'knowledge of the key people, awareness of the history or politics behind a particular problem area, and detailed understanding of the statutes and bylaws'. Alison Talbot has 19 years' experience in charities law and governance and is also highly recommended.

Blandy & Blandy LLP attracts praise for its 'wide range of expertise - clients are always able to speak to or get considered advice from an expert in the field whenever they need to'. The practice acts for a number of independent schools a range of corporate and commercial, employment, intellectual property, planning and environmental law matters. Other clients include the University of Reading, for which the practice provides ongoing advice on documentation - including easements, deeds of release of security, variation to overage deeds and original sale contracts - in relation to previously completed land transactions that will lead to the delivery of approximately 2,000 new homes south of Reading. Charities specialist Nick Burrows is noted for his 'sage advice'. 

Clarkslegal LLP regularly handles major projects in the higher education sector, including providing procurement advice on student accommodation projects; and handling development agreements related to research facilities at teaching hospitals. The practice is led by real estate expert Richard Higgs and includes senior consultant and procurement expert Kristin Parker, employment specialist Michael Sippitt, and construction expert David Rintoul.

Brachers fields a cross-disciplinary team that acts for a range of academy schools and further education colleges, as well as a number of free schools, foundation schools, SEN schools and private colleges. The firm is acting for Hadlow Group on the restructuring of its asset portfolio, which involves the disposal of land to government agencies and housebuilders. Other recent highlights include advising Canterbury College on its merger with East Kent College, which involved the transfer of the client's estate to East Kent College and the dissolution of Canterbury College. Commercial property specialist Bill Butler heads the practice, which includes Ash Jilani, who is leading on the Hadlow Group matter, and employment specialists Joanna Worby and Catherine Daw.

Moore Blatch LLP has niche expertise in assisting parents and families with issues concerning children with special educational needs, and has a track record of involvement in a number of landmark High Court and Court of Appeal cases. The education team works closely with the firm's personal injury, clinical negligence and community care teams to ensure children with special educational needs are identified early and supported in appropriate areas. Erin Smart heads the team and has a track record in SEN tribunal claims. Clinical negligence practice head Tim Spring is also recommended.

Boyes Turner's education team is led by Laxmi Patel and has established a strong reputation in special educational needs matters, working with families and children to provide specialist support for their schooling needs. Patel has an extensive track record handling appeals to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal, and is able to liaise with the firm's clinical negligence and Court of Protection practices where clients and children with the most severe special educational needs require funding from local authorities for their educational provision. Janata Ali assists clients with special school placements and acts in appeals to the First Tier Tribunal.

Baker Small Solicitors provides 'outstanding service' to individuals and public-sector organisations (including a number of local authorities) on a range of education issues, with an emphasis on special educational needs matters. Mark Small (whose 'approachable style and super communication skills gives clients a great deal of confidence') has an extensive track record representing parents, schools and local authorities in a range of disputes; in an example of his work for local authorities, Small acted for Worcestershire County Council in the first case to consider the weight to be applied to s19 of the Children and Families Act and the extent to which the First Tier Tribunal is able to amend outcomes during the appeal process. Other recent work includes assisting the parents of a child with autism with securing a specialist school placement after the placement had been refused by the local authority.

Birkett Long LLP fields a multi-disciplinary team that acts for a range of schools and higher education institutions, including the University of Essex, Colchester Institute and Writtle College. Recent work includes acting for the University of Essex on a service level agreement with St Bartholomew's Hospital and acting for Hilltop Junior School on the transfer of the school into Hearts Academy Trust. Stephen Avila is the key contact.

Field Seymour Parkes LLP acts for the full spectrum of educational clients, from nurseries to universities, on issues ranging M&A and commercial property work, governance matters, and issues relating to SEN and disability. Headed by Katie Burley, the team's clients include John Madejski Academy, which it advises on a range of matters, including recently acting in an equal pay claim arising from a TUPE transfer concerning some 180 claimants. Louise Smyth and Caroline Airey are also recommended.

Tees Law is 'a highly professional and competent outfit, with a justifiably growing reputation in the market for education work'. The practice's clients span a variety of player within the sector, including local authority maintained schools, voluntary aided schools, academies, and further and higher education institutions. It also acts for individuals on issues concerning access to education, particularly where special educational needs are involved. Senior associate and practice head Polly Kerr is 'a very creative lawyer who has an excellent knowledge of education law, a sharp eye for detail, and a noticeable commitment to her clients that goes above and beyond what is normally seen.'

VWV fields an education team that attracts praise for its 'excellent service and sector knowledge' and for providing 'value for money that is difficult to beat'. The practice has wide-ranging expertise in education-sector matters, although it is in the higher education and further education sectors where it is best known; illustrative clients include The University of Southampton, for which the practice advises on employment matters. Recent work includes defending the client in an employment tribunal claim brought by a former employee for constructive unfair dismissal as well as direct and indirect sex discrimination. The practice also acted for the University of East London on the university's template agreement for the delivery of degree apprenticeships under the government's Apprenticeship Standards. Bettina Rigg heads the education practice from the firm's London office; key figures in Watford include Emma-Jane Dalley and Jon Durham.


Index of tables

  1. Health
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Health clients in South East using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


Birkett Long LLP fields a healthcare team that provides 'an excellent level of service and guides the client through complex issues with great patience'. The multi-disciplinary practice acts for a range of clients, including general medical practices, care home operators, dentists and pharmacists, on a variety of issues. Recent work includes acting for a consortium of 5 GP practices on their corporate options and shareholder agreements between the practice representatives and their individual practices, as well as preparing new articles of association concerning share ownership and succession arrangements. Tracey Dickens heads the health and social care team and provides 'invaluable assistance' to her GP clients. Also recommended are the 'very thorough' Liz Jones and David Wisbey, who regularly advises UK-based healthcare companies on corporate and commercial matters.

Blake Morgan LLP's clients include NHS trusts, social enterprises, GPs and health regulators, which the healthcare team advises on the full spectrum of matters including procurement, competition issues, joint ventures and inquests. Bruce Potter is the key figure. Gayle Curry joined BrookStreet des Roches.

Brachers fields a team with extensive experience in healthcare matters, as illustrated by its presence on the NHS Commercial Alliance framework panel and its work for a number of NHS trusts and medical defence organisations. The practice also acts for GP federations, corporations and individual practices, for which it handles merger and succession issues. Recent work includes acting for Medway NHS Foundation Trust in an inquest concerning the death of a patient from suspected pre-eclampsia, and advising Tonbridge Medical Practice on the development of a new surgery. John Sheath leads the healthcare team and has more than 30 years' experience handling clinical negligence inquests, health and safety issues, and Court of Protection declaration work, among other areas of expertise. Employment specialist  Catherine Daw is also recommended.

Cripps LLP's healthcare team is 'particularly strong' and has 'a strong reputation dealing with healthcare clients'. The practice acts for GPs, pharmacies, dental practices and integrated care providers, and has a growing workload for children's day care clients. It acted on some 70 pharmacy-related transactions in 2017, including advising Paydens, which operates one of the largest independent pharmacy groups in the country, on its acquisitions of pharmacy businesses, as well as real estate, employment and commercial matters. Other recent highlights include advising North West Surrey Integrated Care Services on the establishment of a corporate body to integrate care services provided by general medical practices in the area. Nick Austen heads the team and has 20 years' experience in dental, pharmacy and medical transactions. Also recommended are Justin Cumberlege, who has 'a deep understanding of the healthcare sector', Gemma Mintram, who is noted for her track record in dental and pharmacy transactions, and Sarah Hillebron.

Moore Blatch LLP's 'excellent' healthcare practice is praised for its 'very good, sound understanding of this complex area of law' and its willingness to go 'above and beyond in providing holistic advice to clients'. The practice acts for individuals and their representatives in issues where they require access to health and social care services from the NHS or local authorities. The 'absolutely excellent' Paula Barnes heads the practice and is noted for her track record in administrative and public law matters, as well as for her advice to charities and education centres. Tim Spring Is the name to note for clinical negligence matters. On the up-and-coming front, Mea Fyfe is 'an excellent lawyer who goes above and beyond for her clients'.

DAC Beachcroft LLP fields a team of 'experienced and hardworking lawyers' which acts for a sizeable number of NHS trusts, clinical commissioning groups and ambulance trusts, as well as advising a number of independent sector providers. The firm has a particularly strong reputation for handling group action claims, and also assists clients with issues arising from operational business change and restructuring. Recent work includes defending NHS Resolution and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in a claim concerning treatment of a superficial laceration. Belinda Dix leads the healthcare regulatory team; other key figures in the Winchester office include clinical negligence expert Matthew McGrath, who is noted for his 'great instincts and supportive approach'.

'In terms of knowledge, trustworthiness and price', EMW Law LLP is 'head and shoulders above its peers' according to its clients. The healthcare practice acts for dentists, GPs pharmacists and veterinary services on a variety of matters, including regulatory and employment issues, as well as mergers and disposals. Recent highlights include acting for a healthcare operator on the purchase of two companies owning five care homes, and acting for a care home developer and operator on its sale of the freehold in a 70-bed care home it was in the process of developing, as well as the leasing back of the home for a 35-year period. Joe Soul heads the team and has established himself as 'one of the best legal minds in the healthcare sector, and is accordingly well respected by all'. Jordan Glackin 'never hesitates to go above and beyond what is expected of him'. Lucy Bradban is also recommended.

'Excellent in all respects', PDT Solicitors has an extensive track record advising pharmacy clients on issues arising from acquisitions as well as property portfolio management, meaning they bring 'a very good level of understanding of the specifics of the pharmacy market' to the table. Recent highlights include assisting with the acquisition of an optician, advising a pharmacy group on the refinancing of its existing property portfolio, and advising on the sale of an Oxford-based pharmacy. Practice head James Clewlow  is 'a superb negotiator and very good at anticipating one's needs'. The 'communicative and responsive' Jo Williams  is also recommended.

Local government

Index of tables

  1. Local government
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Local government clients in South East using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


Blake Morgan LLP provides 'an exceptional service' to clients, who single the firm out for its 'in-depth knowledge of the local government sector and precise, accurate and prompt responses to queries'. Penny Rinta-Suksi's team handles a range of public and private sector work, including leisure and housing projects, joint ventures, urban regeneration, procurement and construction. Clients include an increasing number of London authorities, as well as unitary and district councils such as Cherwell, Stratford Upon Avon and Exeter City councils. On the leisure development front, the practice advised Exeter City Council on the first Passivhaus leisure centre in the UK, and advising Fenland District Council on a leisure management procurement project for four sites, including one newbuild project. Other key figures include associate Jennifer Sore, who 'provides excellent service and is very knowledgeable of all areas of local government work'.

Cripps LLP's local government practice has wide-ranging expertise covering real estate acquisitions and disposals, development work including planning, environmental and construction matters, and public sector procurement, among other areas. James Lee is continuing to lead the advice to Slough Borough Council on the £1bn urban regeneration project in Slough, which involved a library and football stadium, as well as housing and community projects. Other recent highlights include acting for Eastbourne Borough Council on the acquisition and redevelopment of Hampden retail park, and representing Canterbury City Council in Employment Tribunal proceedings arising from claims for unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal. Miles Paffard, which includes James Lee, who has a strong track record handling development and regeneration projects, and Jason Towell.

Clarkslegal LLP  provides environmental law advice to public sector bodies and is also well versed in advising local authorities on governance issues. Public sector practice head Kirstin Parker is the key contact.

EMW Law LLP regularly acts for public sector organisations such as Milton Keynes Development Partnership on development disposals, including its disposal of a proposed development comprising 375 houses and flats, a marina, a pub and other commercial developments. Other highlights included acting for the London Borough of Brent on the disposal of a major site and assisting the Grand Union Housing Group with planning and property issues related to the ongoing development of a number of sites in the client's portfolio. David Danskin heads the team and has a longstanding track record handling development work for a number of local authorities.

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